|Focus||Structure of the Earth|
|Topics||Crust, Plate Tectonics, Types of Rock|
The crust is the Earth's outermost layer and is divided into oceanic and continental types. Oceanic crust is 3 miles (5 km) to 6 miles (10 km) thick and is composed primarily of denser rock. Continental crust is 20 to 30 miles (30 to 50 km) thick and composed primarily of less dense rock. The crust makes up approximately one percent of the Earth's total volume.
The crust and the rigid lithosphere (upper mantle) is made up of approximately thirty separate plates. These plates more very slowly on the slightly more liquid mantle (asthenosphere) beneath them. This movement has resulted in continental drift which is the gradual movement of land masses across Earth's surface. Continental drift is a very slow process, occurring over hundreds of millions of years.
The Earth's rocks fall into three categories based on how they're formed. Igneous rock (granite, basalt, obsidian) is formed from the hardening of molten rock (lava), sedimentary rock (shale, sandstone, coal) is formed by the gradual despositing and cementing of rock and other debris, and metamorphic rock (marble, slate, quartzite) which is formed when existing rock is altered though pressure, temperature, or chemical processes.